Glossary of Drawing Vocabulary

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The pathway of a moving point usually made by depositing material on a contrasting surface.
the essence of a subject captured in the quickest and most economical way.
The imaginary centerline of a volume; the centerline is assumed to run in a volume's longest dimension is called the long axis, the centerline running at a right angle to the long axis is called a short axis.
Hatching Lines
A series of short, parallel strokes used to build up tone.
Crosshatching Lines
Consecutive sets of strokes is added over the first hatching lines at different angles to build even darker tones.
Implied Line
The condition of an absent line, but implied edge, that describes the presence of an important contour needed to complete a form. Used to depict a strong light falling on a smooth, unbroken surface, overlapping forms of the same or similar value or the turning away of a form.
Lines drawn across the surface of a form to depict the surface topography of that form.
Calligraphic Line
Literally, beautiful writing. The beauty of line becomes a major aesthetic aim.
Lines relating to the quality or state of being straight or an object or form characterized by straight lines (square, cube etc.)
Lines relating to the quality or state of being curved or an object or form characterized by curved lines (circles, sphere, etc.)
Shapes and volumes such as circles, spheres, squares, cubes, cylinders, triangles and cones seldom seen in nature as perfect forms, serve as forms that underlie natural forms or form the basis for actual human-made objects.
Organic (or Biomorphic)
Shapes and surface structure of forms in nature.
Volume (form)
Any three dimensional form, regardless of identity, structure of size.
The effect and degree of bulk, density and weight of three dimensional volume in space or effect of a two dimensional shape consisting of value, texture or color on the picture plane.
The quality of space (2D) or object (3D) in whole or part dependent on its outline.
Positive Shapes (Space)
In drawing serves as the subject of the drawing. In the figure ground relationship it is usually the figure and the opposite defined by negative shapes (space).
Negative Shapes (Space)
In drawing serves as the shapes or spaces around the subject or positive shapes (spaces). Must be equally considered as visually important as the positive shapes.
Plastic (3-dimensional)
In drawing to treat the surface of the picture plane so as to create the illusion of depth, either shallow or deep, using representational or non-representational subject matter (as a window).
Decorative (2-Dimensional)
In drawing to treat the drawing surface in such a way to affirm its two dimensional nature (as an object).
A system (one, two and three point) by which the dimensions and spatial relationships of forms are represented on a flat surface to create an accurate depiction of form and space in the picture plane.
Trompe L'oeil
Literally "fool the eye", subject is drawn so that the eye is deceived into perceiving the formss and spaces are real.
Aerial Perspective
The use of blurred or softened contours and dimmed or dulled colors (tending towards the blue) to suggest space by imitating the visual effect of atmosphere interveing between the observer and objects at a distance.
Referring to the subject of the drawing or the positive shapes (forms, volumes).
In drawing referring to the spaces around the subject also called negative space.
Figure/Ground Relationship
Referring to the designed interplay of positive shapes and forms with negative shapes and forms so as to create a visually interesting and balanced relationships between the two.
Defines a form positioned in such a way (usually forced perspective) so that it's shape is shortened in the direction of depth (line of sight).
Overlapping Shapes
One of the methods used to create the illusion of depth in the picture plane. Accomplished by positioning one form or mass in front fo another.
Diminishing Sizes
Using our intuitive understanding that obejects decrease in size as they recede into the distance, an artist may create the illusion depth in the picture plane by systematically reducing the size of similar forms in a composition.
Positive and Negative Space
See shape.
Vanishing Point (s)
The point of intersection where the converging lines of perspective meet the eye level/horizon line.
Horizon Line
Always at your eye level and may be different than the horizon of the terrestrial plane.
The gradation of tone from light to dark, form white though grey to black.
Local Value
The intrinsic value of an object regardless of the amount or quality of light on it.
In modeling a form or volume, the gradual blending of light to dark to create a three dimensional illusion.
A means of creating a smoky haziness that softens outlines, literally translated from Italian "in the manner of smoke".
Relating to light and dark, the absence of color, as opposed to chromatic (relating to color).
Six Categories of Light on an Object
Highlight (brightest area)
Quartertone (light value/tone)
Halftone (middle value/tone)
Base tone (core of the shadow)
Reflected Light
Cast Shadow
The design of contrasting light and dark masses in a drawing or painting.
A feeling of equality in weight, attention, or attraction of the various visual elements within the picture plane as a means of accomplishing organic unity.
Asymmetric Balance
A form of balance attained when the visula units on either side of a vertical axis are not identical but are placed in position within the pictorial field so as to create a "felt" equilibrium of the total from concept (eastern).
Symmetrical Balance
A form of balance achieved by the use of identical compositional units on either side of a vertical axis within the picture plane. (western).
Oppostion, unlikeness, arrangement so as to intensify differences.
The principle of visual organization which suggests that certain elements should assume more importance than others in the same composition. It contributes to organic unity by emphasizing the fact that there is one main feature and that other elements are subordinate to it.
The arbitrary organization or inventive arrangement of all of the visual elements accoring to principles which will develop an organic unity in the total work of art.
The wole or total effec of a work of art which results from the combination of all of its component parts.
The unity of all of the visual elelments of a composition achieved by the repetition of the same characteristics or those which are similar in nature.
The use of the same visual element a number of times in the same composition. It may accomplish dominance of one visual idea, a feeling of harmonious relationship, or an obviously planned pattern.
A continuance, a flow, or a feeling of a movement achieved by repetition of regulated visual units; the use of measured accents.
The obvious emphasis on certain visual form relationships and certain directional movements within the picture plane. Also refers to teh repetition of elements or the combination of elements in a readily recognized systematic organization.
The surface feel of an object or the representation of surface character. Texture is the actual and "visual feel" of surface areas as they are arranged and altered by man or nature.
Actual Texture
A surface which stimulates a tactile response when actually touched.
Simulated Texture
A representation of an actual texture created by careful copying of the light and dark pattern characterstic of its surface.
Invented Texture
Two dimensional patterns sometimes derived from actual textures, frequently varied to fit pictorial needs, and often freely created without reference to any item.
A quality which refers to the sense of touch.

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